Calcium-Channel Blockers Side Effects and Benefits

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Filed Under: Blood Pressure Webinar, Heart Health
Last Reviewed 03/27/2014

Calcium-Channel Blockers Side Effects and Benefits

Calcium-channel blockers are often prescribed to lower the heart rate and to lower blood pressure. Like beta blockers, calcium-channel blockers may improve blood flow and improve vascular tone through narrowed vessels. Some calcium-channel blockers are even endothelial-cell friendly—that is, they encourage smooth-muscle relaxation in the inner lining of your blood vessels—preventing spasms and helping them dilate, thus effectively lowering blood pressure. But there are many calcium-channel blockers side effects, as well.

A few commonly prescribed calcium-channel blockers include the following:

  • Verapamil (Isoptin, Calan SR, and Verelan)
  • Amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • Felodipine (Plendil)
  • Sustained-release nifedipine (Procardia XL)

Side Effects of Calcium-Channel Blockers

  • Ankle swelling
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Bleeding gums
  • Lung congestion
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps

Considerable controversy has arisen regarding an increase in mortality in some patients treated with short-acting calcium-channel blockers, so I recommend that you stick with longer-acting versions for treating high blood pressure. Check with your doctor to make sure you are on long-acting, second- or third-generation calcium-channel blockers. In addition, use caution when you combine calcium-channel blockers with digoxin for the treatment of congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation. Some calcium-channel blockers side effects include an increase in the digoxin in your blood to dangerous levels, which can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite or “heart block,” a serious condition whereby your heart rate can slow dangerously.

Potential Calcium-Channel Blockers Side Effect: Nutrient Depletion

Nutrient depletion is another common side effect of calcium-channel blockers. Nutrients that may be depleted in the body as the result of taking calcium-channel blockers include magnesium, Vitamin B6, potassium, zinc, CoQ10 and folic acid. Consequently, you need to make sure that your supplementation program includes these nutrients, or modify your diet to feature foods that are high in these nutrients that can fall prey to the side effect of calcium channel blockers.

Good food sources of magnesium include: avocado, wheat germ, almonds, shredded wheat cereal, pumpkin seeds, cashews, spinach, potatoes, soybeans and peanuts

Good food sources of Vitamin B6 include: potatoes, bananas, garbanzo beans, chicken breast, oatmeal, pork loin, mackerel, snapper, wheat germ and walnuts

Good food sources of potassium include: figs, avocado, papayas, bananas, dates, bulgur, skim milk, guava, cantaloupe and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Baked potato is the best source.

Good food sources of zinc include: oysters, beef shank, chicken legs, pork tenderloin, yogurt, baked beans, cashews, pecans, Swiss cheese and milk

Good food sources of CoQ10 include: beef, chicken, trout, wild salmon and broccoli

Good food sources of folic acid include: beef liver, fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, great northern beans, asparagus, wheat germ, fresh squeezed orange juice, turnip greens, vegetarian baked beans and broccoli

More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Keeping Blood Pressure Low

Want the scoop on other common prescription high blood pressure medications? Learn more about:

 What’s the best diet for high blood pressure? Learn how the Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet can help lower your blood pressure.

How does exercise help lower your blood pressure? Find out the many ways that exercise promotes healthy blood pressure and get tips on the most heart-healthy types of exercise.

How can you address stress to lower your blood pressure? Read about techniques to help you manage your emotions and daily stressors in an effort to reduce your blood pressure reading

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